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Looking ahead in New Zealand

12/05/2012: New Zealand

Br David McDonald, Provincial, invited Brothers in the New Zealand sector of the Province to assemble at Sacred Heart College, Auckland, for a 2-day workshop on the future of the mission in New Zealand, April 19-20. 25 Brothers worked in groups of 5 over the two days – the familiar “round table” approach so much favoured in our Marist gatherings of recent years.

The first session was devoted to reflecting on our life as Marists up until this year. Looking back. Questions were considered at the personal level, then table, then recorded for all to read. Such issues as personal highlights, inspiring Brothers (individually and as leaders), qualities exhibited by these men, personal satisfaction as a Brother today.

Then we looked at today. Using Br Emili’s recent circular, “He Gave Us the Name of Mary”, group work was carried out on our current fragility here in NZ and our response to this. Emerging here was the recognition of the importance of the developing movement of Champagnat Marists / Lay Partners.

Interestingly, a group of Champagnat Marists were meeting at Sacred Heart at the same time, discerning their identity and role in the life of the Province.

The next session had us looking ahead, with each Brother being asked to consider his vision of his role post-2012. Included in this was his role in ministry, in the promotion of the charism and even in Marist leadership. The concept of leadership was extended beyond that of corporate leadership, as in Provincial Council and suchlike, to include that of personal responsibility within and beyond the community.

Br David challenged the group, as individuals, to acknowledge the importance of their assuming leadership within the Province. “If you won’t do it, who will? It is up to you.” He asserted that the future of the Province lay with the men gathered around him there. Not with the Provincial and his Council. Hmm, quite a challenge to those inclined to sit back and be dictated to from above. Or to sit back and do nothing. Quietly die.

Perhaps the most salient issue that emerged from the gathering was the importance of the role of Champagnat Marists. The final session of the two days was a “conversation” between the two groups, where, quite informally, members of each group shared their thoughts on the roles of both Brothers and Lay in living a shared Marian spirituality, developing the same call to mission and sharing in ongoing formation.

Br David expressed his view that new ventures are still possible in New Zealand and that such enterprises must involve both Brothers and Champagnat Marists. We may be fewer than before but the fire of Marcellin still burns in the hearts of those who bear the name of Marist, be they Brother or Lay.

A challenging and inspiring two days!

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